Swap screens for museums in May


On the fence about becoming a local museum member? San Diego Museum Council (SDMC) has an incentive for those timid about taking the plunge — 35 for the price of one.

“The Big Exchange” is an annual program that offers reciprocal membership to participating museums, historical sites, gardens, aquariums and more. A member of any establishment partaking in the exchange will receive free admission to the other locations by presenting their membership card. Participants can enjoy the perk now through International Museum Day on Saturday, May 18.

SDMC, a coalition of local museums, hosts the exchange. According to its website, the Council’s overall goal is “to increase awareness, connect, provide services and advocate for the diverse museums” within the network, which includes nearly 50 establishments in the San Diego region.

From Oceanside to Bonita, “The Big Exchange” locations span throughout the county. The list includes Museum of Photographic Arts, California Surf Museum and San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat), as well as the Japanese Friendship Garden and Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

Most of the primary exhibitions will be open throughout the exchange. To name a few, Sites Unseen at Museum of Contemporary Arts (downtown) blurs the lines between art, science and investigative journalism; That We Should Be Heirs at San Diego Museum of Art encourages attendees to read and write handwritten letters; and San Diego Surreal at Oceanside Museum of Art explores the impact surrealism has had on local artists in the region.

The promotion does not apply to Balboa Park Explorer Pass holders. Participating venues are located throughout San Diego County, and hours and membership prices vary. For a full list of those associated with “The Big Exchange,” visit